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Professional Opportunities, Challenges and Adventure in 18th Century Istanbul: The Astonishing Diary of the Female Polish Oculist Salomea Pilsztynowa (1760)

November 15, 2017@7:00 pm9:00 pm

The diary of Salomea Pilsztynowa (1718 – after 1763) entitled Echo of the Journey and Adventures of My Life reads like a picaresque novel full of drama, romance, danger, and intrigue, narrating the ups and downs of the heroine’s encounters with various characters populating a cosmopolitan yet tumultuous Ottoman Empire. Written in Polish in 1760, it covers the author’s residence in Istanbul and her travels through the Ottoman Balkans. Salomea Pilsztynowa was indeed an exceptional woman. Born in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Belarus), in 1731 she arrived in Istanbul as a young bride accompanying her physician husband, Jakub Halpir, who sought his fortune as a foreign doctor among the Istanbul elite. Although not formally educated, Salomea learned the craft of medicine from her husband and others, and soon set up her own medical practice, specializing in ophthalmology and treating both men and women. At the height of her medical career, Salomea served as physician to the harem of Ottoman sultan Mustafa III in 1759. Told from the perspective of a practicing female physician, this fascinating account provides a unique glimpse into the lives of both commoners and the elite in the Ottoman empire in the eighteenth century. It also attests to the extraordinary resourcefulness of an independent woman successfully navigating a man’s world in a foreign land.


November 15, 2017
7:00 pm-9:00 pm